CHRISTLIKE COMPETITORS (Olympic Lessons 10) Philippians 3:7-14
Paul admits he has far to go to attain his goal of Christlikeness (Philippians 3:12). Don’t we all! The more a person grows as a Christian, the more clearly, they see the gap between what they are and Who Jesus is. So, what’s the solution? Drawing on his own experience of going from killing Christians to being a leader among them, Paul shares his two-fold approach to moving towards his goal of Christ-likeness.
First, “forgetting what is behind” (Philippians 3:13) means not focusing on past failures or successes. We aren’t to forget God’s mercy in the past, or lessons we learned from our failures, but we must forgive ourselves for our defeats and not become proud about our victories. A good runner does not dwell on past races, good or bad. They just look ahead. When in a race they can’t keep turning around to see what is happening behind them, they ignore what is in back of them and push to the finish line with every ounce of energy they have. That’s what we are to do as well.
Allyson Felix was an American runner who came in second in the 200 meters in the 2004 Olympics. She kept training but came in second to the same woman in the same event in 2008. She didn’t give up but kept running. In the 2012 Olympics she beat that same woman and got the Gold medal. She didn’t let the past keep her from moving ahead to her goal.
In our desire to serve Jesus, we can get so hung up on our own mistakes and sins in the past that we allow the past to rob us of our present and future joy. We punish ourselves although Jesus has already taken the punishment for those sins and God does not remember them any more (Hebrews 8:12). If Paul could be forgiven and then forgive himself for his past, we can as well.
Lot’s wife looked back and died (Genesis 19:26). The rich young ruler looked back and didn’t follow Jesus (Matthew 19:16-30). Paul had to put his blaspheming of God, and persecuting of Christians behind him in order to press on to his goal. Moving ahead is the second part of Paul’s formula for victory over focusing on the past. “But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).
Paul continues with the analogy of a runner giving his all to cross the finish line. He holds nothing back but focuses on his goal with every thought and action of his entire being. The goal is living a faithful, godly life and in the process growing to be more like Jesus in all we think and do. That is Paul’s one and only goal in life (Philippians 3:13) and it should be ours as well.
Football quarterback Joe Namath once wrote a book titled: “I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow – Because I Get Better-Looking Every Day.” As Christians, we must be getting better looking every day as we look and act more and more like Jesus. We must deny ourself and die to our own wishes and goals each day (Luke 9:23), remembering we died with Jesus (Romans 6:6, 11). We must keep putting Jesus first in our lives (1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 4:11).
Do you struggle with hanging on to past sins and failures? If so, do this: write God a letter listing them and ask Him to forgive you for them. Write out Hebrews 8:12 at the bottom. Seal the paper in an envelope and put it in your Bible where you’ll see it often. Whenever those things come to mind remember your letter of confession and forgiveness.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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